Newly formed Boundary County Skatepark Alliance puts skate park ideas into action By Christian Weaner | Photo by NE Productions
Several months ago, Boundary County Parks and Recreation Sports Manager Nancy Schaffer did something unordinary.
She walked out onto the pavement of Bonners Ferry’s small, rustic skate park and approached the group of kids riding around on their skateboards. The kids looked puzzled. Adults do not bother them when they are at the skate park. Ever.
But Schaffer was not there to scold them or ask them to leave. She just had a simple question: “How can we improve the skate park?”
“The kids were [amazed and they] started rattling off all these ideas, and their faces just lit up when they realized that they might get some support,” Schaffer recalled. She asked them to write down their ideas and bring them to her.
“A couple of weeks went by, and I didn’t get any ideas from them,” Schaffer said. “And I got to thinking about it and I was like, ‘They are just kids. They don’t know how to go about this. I don’t know how to go about it, so how do I go about it?’”
Schaffer started researching about what goes into fixing up a skate park or building a new one. She put out a Facebook post on the county’s Parks and Recreation page, and the feedback was overwhelming.
“I realized really quickly that we had a lot of interest but also there is a ton of support in the larger skate park community,” Schaffer said. “They want everybody to have a skate park. They want every community to experience what it is like, and when they see somebody with something like what we currently have, they are ready to do anything they can to help you.”
Bolstered by a wave of community excitement and support, Schaffer founded the Boundary County Skatepark Alliance (BCSA) in May with the goal of raising enough money to build the community a larger, safer skate park.
According to Marty Collyer, a Bonners Ferry native now living in Coeur d’Alene, he and his friends helped to build Bonners Ferry’s skate park in 1996. Since that time, no updates or renovations have been made to the less than 2,000-square-foot skate park, which consists of several quarter pipes, a box jump, and a flat rail.
After her conversations with the kids at the skate park and the initial Facebook post, Schaffer scheduled a meeting to discuss ideas and began putting up fliers to advertise for the event. The kids were so excited that they began handing out fliers to strangers and inviting anyone who would listen.
One such individual was Jeffrey Phillips, who now serves as one of BCSA’s marketing representatives. He said that a boy who lives next door told him about the meeting and convinced him to join BCSA.
Phillips is one of many who were inspired by the passion of the young people who are so enthusiastic about the skate park alliance. “The kids sold this,” Phillips said.
BCSA’s first meeting was attended by more than 30 people. Since then, members have continued to share ideas on the group’s Discord server, which is open for anyone to join. According to Schaffer and Phillips, a core group of six to eight adults make up the alliance’s marketing, design, and treasury subcommittees.
BCSA and the parks department have also hosted two skateboarding events with the help of Yousta Story Tellers, a clothing store and skate shop in Coeur d’Alene owned by Jason Olsen.
Olsen, along with his co-worker and fellow skateboard enthusiast Collyer, made the drive up to Bonners Ferry—bringing merchandise and skateboarding expertise—to host a skate jam at BCSA’s Go Skateboarding Day June 21. Olsen also helped set up the group’s Skate and Music Showcase July 16.
Both events had more than 80 attendees, including skaters, their friends and family. At the Skate and Music Showcase, local band King Friday played reggae tunes as the skate jam took place.
“I honestly thought it was going to be a bunch of skaters and maybe a few adults here and there,” Schaffer said. “But it was everyone! Little kids to grandmas, tons of family. For every skater, there were probably like six people there from their family.”
Schaffer and Phillips both expressed their appreciation for the turnout and support at the two events, and they said they can see a difference in the kids as well, who are trying out new tricks they learned from Olsen and Collyer at the skate jam.
Schaffer acknowledged that the goals of BCSPA are long-term and may take several years or more to complete. However, the opportunity to provide a safe environment for kids to have fun, meet friends and express themselves is worth it.
“I think 10 years from now—no matter what kind of skate park we have there—it’s going to be unrecognizable from what it is today,” Schaffer said.
“Exciting,” Phillips chimed in.
“It is really exciting,” Schaffer concurred.
For anyone looking to learn more about BCSA, or to join the BCSA team server on Discord, contact Boundary County Parks and Recreation office at 208.304.3603 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.